Justice and Law Enforcement:

Report of the National Advisory Commission on Law Enforcement

OCG-90-2: Published: Apr 25, 1990. Publicly Released: Apr 25, 1990.

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GAO presented the findings of the National Advisory Commission on Law Enforcement (NACLE), focusing on: (1) compensation levels and issues involving recruitment, retention, and morale in federal law enforcement; (2) compensation rates for law enforcement officers; (3) overtime practices and policies; (4) retirement and benefits policies; and (5) the extent to which administrative procedures and legislation were necessary to remedy inconsistencies and pay inequities.

GAO found that: (1) NACLE identified a significant pay gap between federal and state and local law enforcement, especially at the entry level; (2) pay disparity diminished with experience, but there were still significant gaps at full performance levels in certain geographic areas, and state and local salaries 10 to 15 percent higher overall; (3) pay disparities seriously detracted from the desirability of federal law enforcement careers; (4) most federal law enforcement agencies reported recruiting and retention problems, especially in high-cost areas; (5) all agencies citing recruiting problems cited such problems at the entry level, and some reported them at full performance levels; (6) agencies from all regions reported problems in recruiting minorities; (7) many agencies indicated the need for individuals with language, computer, accounting, and legal skills, but noted that such individuals were difficult to recruit because they could earn better salaries in the private sector; (8) that given the drug war, growing prison population, and increased retirements, demands for new law enforcement employees would increase; and (9) 70 of 102 officials noted retention problems, and indicated that most individuals leaving their agencies were not leaving law enforcement, but were accepting positions in other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies for better pay and benefits or to relocate to lower-cost areas. GAO also found that: (1) significant differences existed in the use of overtime among federal agencies surveyed; (2) only some federal law enforcement officers received administratively uncontrollable overtime (AUO) pay while others received AUO or scheduled overtime pay depending upon the circumstances; and (3) 89 percent of the state and local respondents provided overtime pay and, of those, 94 percent paid more for all overtime hours worked and 93 percent noted that there was no limit on the amount of overtime pay.

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